The Embassy of Brazil and Lucid-ly present a rare collection of 50 photographs by Sir Benjamin Stone. Part of the Library of Birmingham Archive, this unpublished collection will be on public display for the first time from 12 September at the Embassy of Brazil.
Stone’s photographs are an invitation to travel back in time and witness a nation on the cusp of modernisation where there was a stark contrast between the untouched wilderness of the Amazon and the relentless industrialisation taking place in cities such as Manaus, the capital of the Amazonian rubber trade.
Curated by Rodrigo Orrantia and Pete James from the Stone archive at the Library of Birmingham, the photographs were taken during a Royal Astronomical Society expedition set out to observe a full solar eclipse in the Brazilian Amazon in 1893. Stone also documented his journey by sea to Brazil, photographing the people and places he discovered upon arrival.
The exhibition reveals some of the Brazilians who were at that time striving to forge an independent nation. A keen observer of individuals and customs in England, Stone captured images that portray different sections of Brazil’s already diverse society towards the end of the nineteenth century: recently freed African slaves, indigenous tribes in the Amazon, and European settlers of greatly differing economic circumstances who had ventured across the Atlantic to start a new life. In many of these images his subjects’ quizzical gaze suggest that Stone was as much the observed as the observer.
Sir Benjamin Stone images courtesy of Library of Birmingham
Project TItle: Sir Benjamin Stone: Observations in Brazil, 1893
Partners: Embassy of Brasil in London and Library of Birmingham
Curators: Pete James, Rodrigo Orrantia for Lucid-ly
Embassy of Brazil
14-16 Cockspur Street
London SW1Y 5BL
September 12 – November 7 2014
Brazil and photography in the 19th century
Press: Birmingham Post 11/09/14